This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here and the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.From the beginning, God intended marriage to be a safe place; a place of companionship and love. At the beginning of creation, God found only one thing that was not good. "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'" (Genesis 2:18) God took the woman from the man and fashioned her to be a helper and companion for the man. Together they were to be companions to lighten the load of loneliness and to love one another. Taken from Adam was one who made two that they might become one again; one in flesh, one in emotions, and one in spirit. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) Of all the places we go, our marriages should be the one place where we feel both safe and loved; a place where we know we will never be lonely again. This idea may not always be realized in a marriage, but it is the original intent and the present hope of God for all married couples.
However, the Koran paints a rather different picture of marriage; one where the men are above their wives and wives are for their husband's pleasure and benefit. Wives are seen more as property than people; to be used and discarded when no longer desired. In the Koran, the marriage is no longer a safe place, at least not for the woman.
In the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the wife answer directly to God for their behavior and attitudes in marriage. However, in Islam, wives must answer to their husbands and are subject to his "judgment" and "punishment" as he deems fit.
"Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret [during the husband’s absence] for God's guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat [scourge] them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them." (Koran 4:39)There was a time in our country when it was considered acceptable to hit a woman, but this acceptance came from the prevailing culture. Here God is directly telling men to admonish their rebellious wives, even striking them if necessary to bring them into line. And what must a woman do to deserve such a beating? It is only required that her husband fear that she may be rebellious. There is no requirement for actual proof, the mere suspicion of the husband is enough to justify his violence. How different from the counsel of Peter, "You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7) Similarly, Paul tells husbands to "love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25) and again, "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them." (Colossians 3:19) How can a husband who in such ways loves his wife ever find and excuse to hit her? Certainly not from God!
Even where there may not be physical abuse, the Koran allows for an atmosphere of fear to rule a home, at lease as it pertains to the wife.
"It is possible that, [haply] if he divorces you, his Lord will give him in exchange wives better than you, women who have surrendered [Muslims], believing, obedient, penitent, devout, given to fasting, who have been married and virgins too." (Koran 66:5)How can one live in freedom when they are constantly in fear of being tossed out and/or replaced? What possesses God to hold such fear over the lives of women? The clear message from God is that, unless the wife is obedient enough, religious enough, or penitent enough, she might just one day find herself replaced by another more obedient, religions, and penitent wife. And to make this point even more fearful (and painful), God reminds them that its not just other women that their husband might take in their place but other previously married women as well as virgins that he might find more suitable than her.
In Islam, there remains no security in marriage. Marriage, as a commitment, is only as secure as the husband desires to be committed. Divorce is always a very present option; an option that is wielded at the discretion of the husband, not the wife.
"And if you desire to exchange a wife in place of another, and you have given to one a hundredweight [a talent], take of it nothing [make no deduction]. What, will you take it by way of calumny and manifest sin?" (Koran 4:24)It is interesting that, in the Koran, divorce, as long as it is done right, is never portrayed as being wrong or something that we should avoid if possible. Divorce is accepted and permissible so long as it is done right. In the Koran, the marriage covenant of the man goes something like this, "I am committed to you until I change my mind or get tired of you and want someone else." Certainly this is not a strong foundation for any marriage.
Marriage is a joining of two people onto one in a life long covenant of love and companionship. Jesus said, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." (Matthew 19:6) While God did permit divorce, it was not ever His intent in marriage. Jesus said, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Matthew 19:8-9) Marriage was always meant to be a place of security, safety, and love but this can only be established where covenant is enjoined and sustained by both involved. A marriage where you never know if you are in or out, a marriage where you never know if you will be hit or not, is not a marriage as God created it and is no place for one created in the image of God.
More to come...